When it comes to choosing to work with asset managers on behalf of our clients there is no shortage of options. There is Schwab, AQR, American Funds, Vanguard, BlackRock and the list goes on. We have, for a long time, chosen Dimensional Fund Advisors as our primary asset manager for the funds we choose for our clients. The philosophy that they use is evidence-based investing. The choices that they make are backed by decades of research from Nobel Laureates and financial science. To us, this approach to investing just makes logical sense.
Checking the weather? Guess what—you’re using a model. While models can be useful for gaining insights that can help us make good decisions, they are inherently incomplete simplifications of reality.
In investing, factor models have been a frequent topic of discussion. Often marketed as smart beta strategies, these products are based on underlying models with limitations that many investors may not be aware of.
To help shed light on this concept, let’s start by examining an everyday example of a model: a weather forecast. Using data on current and past weather conditions, a meteorologist makes a number of assumptions and attempts to approximate what the weather will be in the future. This model may help you decide if you should bring an umbrella when you leave the house in the morning. However, as anyone who has been caught without an umbrella in an unexpected rain shower knows, reality often behaves differently than a model predicts it will.
After a period of relative calm in the markets, in recent days the increase in volatility in the stock market has resulted in renewed anxiety for many investors.
From February 1–5, the US market (as measured by the Russell 3000 Index) fell almost 6%, resulting in many investors wondering what the future holds and if they should make changes to their portfolios.1 While it may be difficult to remain calm during a substantial market decline, it is important to remember that volatility is a normal part of investing. Additionally, for long-term investors, reacting emotionally to volatile markets may be more detrimental to portfolio performance than the drawdown itself.